Let the testing begin

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School districts have been preparing parents for the change. District 13 has hosted a series of workshops about Common Core and how parents can help at home. In District 24, Curriculum Director Dr. Lisa Conte led an informational night in which she discussed the new standards as well as why the state expects a decline in scores. She said that parents got to meet with teachers to view sample test questions from last year and this year, to see the increased difficulty.

Conte said that the questions will require much more critical thinking from students. On the ELA exam, they must cite evidence from reading passages in their responses, and will also have to understand and use more advanced words. In math, they will have to know different ways to solve problems.

Fale said that Common Core is designed to help students master skills. “They’re learning fewer topics,” he said, “but they’re learning each topic more in-depth.”

He approves of the state announcing well in advance that a decline in scores is expected. Fale said this comes after years of local school officials clamoring for more direction, explanation and transparency from the State Education Department.

What he disagrees with is a test-focused education system. “It’s time for us to rethink this dangerous path of student assessment that we’re on,” Fale said. “We’re over-testing children.”

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